My family lived above a shop premises in Bristol until I was 9 years old. My parents worked full time in an off license and the accomodation above the shop came with the Managers job. We lived in Coldharbour Road, Chandos Road and the bottom of Cotham Hill in Bristol as my father was transferred from shop to shop.
One weekend my father had mixed up a huge bowl of Papier mache and as a family we spent one Sunday making different models and masks and such using the squishy newspaper mixed with wallpaper paste. The sensation of the thick glue between our fingers and smoothing the strips of paper to make something of our design was a wholly satisfying experience.
Children are by nature impatient and we were no different. The models would take hours to dry and my parents had to return to work. Employed as manager and deputy manager in a shop that opened from 9am until 11pm, meant that for a lot of the time, my brothers and I were left to our own devices and had to create our own means of entertainment.
Papier mache Sunday was beautiful. It was sunny and bright. We were 4, 8 and 9 years old. And bored. Even though my brother was the eldest at 9 I’m quite certain that what happened next wasn’t his idea. It couldn’t really have been my four year old brothers idea. I like to think that it was a collaboration.
We had a bowl full of Papier mache and we were going to find a way to use it. Like I said I don’t recall who exactly came up with the idea but before you could say “art attack” we were at an open sash window, armed with our gluey mix and three large spoons. We decided to have a competition to see if we could hit the car across the road using the spoon as a catapult and the Papier mache as our projectile of choice.
After a few practice goes, we found we could indeed hit the car parked across the road, owner unknown, and this hugely entertaining game kept us occupied for a good hour. The three of laughing like lunatics the car was almost completely covered on the side facing us, with mashed up newspaper soaked in wall paper paste drying hard to the car in the summer sun.
Our game came to abrupt end as a very angry man walked towards our target. The three of us watched him walk towards the car we had been pelting and as he turned he looked up and saw us. We ducked but it was too late. The next thing we heard was shouting from the shop downstairs and the sound of very heavy footsteps up the stairs to our flat.
My father threw the door open and looked around the room until he spotted us. Having the good sense to scarper, my two brothers legged it upstairs to their bedrooms. Considerably slower than they were, I was unable to outrun the giant shovel hand of my father that landed on my arse as I tried to take the stairs two at a time. Grabbing my arse with both hands to try and protect it as my father rained down blow after blow giving me a sound spanking.
Worth it though.